Brussels: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that the time had not yet come for the alliance to make a decision on the timing of the delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
“Exactly when a decision will be taken [to deliver F-16s to Ukraine] it’s too early to say, but the fact that training has started provides us with the option to also decide to deliver planes, and then the pilots will be ready to fly them,” Stoltenberg told reporters before the NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
On Wednesday, Stoltenberg said that NATO would begin the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s this summer. On the same day, the Dutch Defense Ministry said that a training center for Ukrainian pilots would be created in one of the Eastern European countries.
Russia has slammed the possible deliveries of F-16s to Ukraine and warned that the jets will become a legitimate military target for Russian forces. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that the supply of F-16 fighters to Ukraine would become another escalation, as there is a modification of the fighter capable of carrying nuclear weapons.